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Roswell Public Works Director Says Customers Will Pay More Without Plant Improvements

Roswell's director of Public Works/Environmental Stuart Moring told Roswell Patch that water utility customers will see higher rate hikes over the next 20 years if plant improvements are not made.

Roswell Water Utility customers could see annual rate increases of four or five percent over the next 20 years if nothing is done to improve the city's current water treatment plant, according to Roswell's director of Public Works/Environmental Stuart Moring.

No matter what, water treatment plant operation costs are expected to rise, according to a prior Gresham Smith & Partners consultant analysis (attached to this article as a PDF). How much they'll rise is dependant upon whether or not the city makes necessary improvements, Moring said about the .

"We would need a higher rate increase if we don’t make the improvements," Moring said. "Considering that these costs are estimated to double in about 20 years, water rates to customers could double if these cost savings [plant improvements] are not realized."

Moring likens the improvements to replacing an old, gas-guzzler car with a new one that gets twice as many miles to the gallon of fuel.

"The savings continue to grow throughout the life of the vehicle as fuel and other costs continue to rise," he said.

An enterprise fund covers the water utility cost, so the the $17.2 million bond that would be required to build a new plant would be paid for by water customers only, not the general taxpayers of Roswell. Moring says a new plant will reduce operating costs in the near term by approximately $600,000-$700,000 per year. It's money that will be used to pay off the loan taken out to construct the plant. 

"The amount of savings will grow each successive year," he said.

Moring also points out that building and operation costs are just projections based on current trends.

"If the increases don’t materialize, the rates won’t have to go up," he said, pointing toward a recent reduction in sanitation rates because the city saved more than was expected. However, within the .

There are approximately 5,600 Roswell households - appoximately 15,000 residents - who get their water from the city, the rest receive water via Fulton County. The current plant was built in 1937. Today, upgrades made in during the 1990s allow it to produce 1.2 million gallons per day. A new plant would produce about 2.8 million gallons per day.

The construction of a new water treatment plant has not been approved by city council. Once conceptual designs are completed, public comment will be requested.

Previous water treatment plant studies and analysis are available to the public. Call the city's at 770-641-3750.

Salma Haleem Ahmed November 18, 2011 at 10:33 PM
I appreciate the clarifications from Mr. Moring. One further question for him- What is the total cost difference if these 5600 households simply bought the water from Fulton County like the rest of the City as opposed to either building a new facility or continuing to use the old "gas-guzzler"? And by total, I mean the prorated admin. and maintenance costs that are not covered by the bond.
Michael Reissig November 19, 2011 at 02:58 AM
"If the increases don’t materialize, the rates won’t have to go up," he said, pointing toward a recent reduction in sanitation rates because the city saved more than was expected. However, within the same meeting the reduction in rates were approved, Roswell City Council voted to increase stormwater utility fees." Look what you voted for Roswell! Thank you oh so very much......
Lee Fleck November 19, 2011 at 04:01 AM
In January 2010 Mr. Moring stated "We will embark on the economic assessment when we have solid information on the technical feasibility of both the surface and groundwater improvements" To date there has been no quantifiable analysis to include a rate study. In November 2010 Mr Moring then stated "We are about to initiate a preliminary design and cost analysis for that work. When we have those pieces together, we will undertake an overall economic assessment and rate study". Again there has been NO economic analysis nor the necessary rate study. So how Mr. Moring can so project future utility rates is puzzling. IMHO until the City can justify the economics to its customers Mr. Moring MUST recognize a critical goal spelled out on page 18 of the Roswell Water System Master plan under the Net Present Value Analysis and that is: e. STAKEHOLDERS ACCEPTANCE. The link provided to the Gresham, Smith and Partners website is not a good link to Roswell's WATER SYSTEM MASTER PLAN. The following link will take you to the actual report: http://theperspicaciousconservative.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/roswell-water-system-master-plan-text-7-2010.pdf Lee Fleck "All thuths are easy to understand once they are discovered" Galileo
Dan November 19, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Excellent question! Why build if you can buy? (In other words, who profits from this project?)
Lee Fleck November 19, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Claiming higher utility costs without a new facility is nothing short of the expected "Tall Tantrum" the city uses every time it wants $$$$$$$$$ from its citizens. What Mr. Moring must prove is that the projected savings from the new water plant will be passed on to its customers and that the intention is not to utilize these customers as a profit center to fund other ventures. And until he can substantiate that in real numbers with a quantifiable analysis to include a rate study everything he has stated to date is speculative. Lee Fleck "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered" Galileo
No Name November 19, 2011 at 06:31 PM
People get the government they deserve, unfortunately, in this case.
janet h russell November 19, 2011 at 07:59 PM
The cost of this water plant will be paid for by 5600 users in the district. There are 27,000 households in Roswell but only 5600 will have to pay for this new plant. Why can't the 5600 just join the other 21,00 plus and get it from Fulton County? This is clearly an issue that will not hurt anyone but the people in the center of the oldest part of Roswell. No wonder the city council doesn't take issue with this problem. Except for one NONE of them live in the oldest part of the City. So it is politically beneficial to not understand or to simply vote a "yes" to the item brought before them.
Thomas Wayne Shelton November 19, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Janet, I agree. Why spend so much money -- to serve ~20% of the residents -- by building new infrastructure when a water source currently exists through Fulton County. There has to be more to this story. Based on what I have seen so far, it simply doesn't add up.
James Hargreaves November 20, 2011 at 12:24 AM
James D. Hargreaves Personal matters have keep me from participating in the public life of Roswell except for the defeat of Andretti's proposed outdoor go-kart track. In my previous involvement with reviewing Roswell's approach to managing the City, I have the the City (administration, Council, and Mayor) less than completely open - even secretive at times. As a systems professional, I have also found fundamental failures in the process of city administration and Council operations. Of course, while I have (usually) been politely listened to, I have been largely ignored. This question about whether to spend or not to spend money on infrastructure should not even be open for debate. That is why God invented accounting and Economics. Good management practices would dictate using both to answer basic questions before even spending $10,000 - let alone millions. I realize this approach may seem radical to those without a degree in business, accounting, systems, or economics and no significant business experience in any of these areas, but I would suggest they try it (for a change). Once they have done the analysis needed, another unique practice ought to be followed (for a change). Fully and timely disclose the facts and analysis so that there is no debate at all. If the City isn't competent or willing enough to both do the analysis and/or disclose it, then I suggest we instead use City money to buy Lottery tickets instead. No more mushrooms. Get out of the dark.
Lee Fleck November 20, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Thomas, It’s all about the money. I believe that the city views this new water plant as a potential profit center. It would be a great deal for the city to have citizens bear the financial burden of a new plant while the city reaps the rewards which is an ANNUAL savings of the $700,000 to $1 million that the city currently expends to purchase water from Fulton County to augment the ongoing needs for its customers. Approx. 50% of the city's water customers’ needs are actually provided by Fulton County. So when you hear Mr. Moring make state that the city provided water to 5600 residents or 12,000 individuals, simply cut that number in half to know the true number being serviced by the Dobbs street water treatment plant that will be obsolete in the next 8-9 years according to the engineering firm that conducted the Master Water System Plan for the city. NOW in FY2010, the city moved 19 full time jobs out of the General Fund and moved them along with their $1.3 million in salaries & benefits into the Participatory Recreational Fund. This Recreation Fund is much like the Water Fund in that it is a self-funded entity. That means that these employee costs are now being paid by the participants of the Parks & Recreation in the form of higher fees. A move like this frees up General Funds to be used elsewhere. Lee Fleck
Salma Haleem Ahmed November 20, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Thomas, to reply further on Lee's comments, once the costs are shuffled out of the General Fund, the Council can use the freed up funds to cover deficits in income without actually coming out and raising taxes. But, charging higher fees for City services is increasing our taxation, just by another name that is more palatable to the general public.
Anonymous1107 February 06, 2012 at 06:28 PM
They had to increase the stormwater utilities to utilize an upgrade in the new 2014 fiscal year budget. Without this increase your Roswell utility plant would not had been approved for 10 years because of the decrease in revenue...maybe you need to learn more about engineering and public works before commenting such stupid remarks.
Michael Reissig February 06, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I am starting to think that I have an online stalker here, your comment makes no sense whatsoever.
Lee Fleck February 06, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Mr. Anonymous 1107, The Storm Water Utility (SWUF) was established by taking funds out of the Solid Waste Fund which currently has excess reserves (from over billing) to the tune of $5,000,000 remaining EVEN following the establishment the SWUF. And neither have absolutely anything to do with the Water Plant Fund which is a seperate entity funded exclusively from its customers and the subject of this blog.
Thomas Wayne Shelton February 06, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Michael, Its hard to take anyone seriously that won't provide a name and simply tosses out ideas without thinking them through. If anyone wants to be part of the conversation, then please do so but don't hide behind anonymous comments. I suggest we ignore anonymous commenters.
Michael Reissig February 06, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I agree that it is hard to take an anonymous stalker seriously Thomas. If you read my other comments in other threads this 'anonymous' has been slamming everything that I have said in an attempt to belittle me. I have a strong suspicion whom it is, why me I have no idea. It is too bad that we couldn't get the incumbents out last time around.
Thomas Wayne Shelton February 06, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Just ignore them until they can become a part of our community by not hiding in the shadows throwing rocks. Last election was just a warm up for me. I plan to spend the next two years getting better organized and trying again. Still amazed at all the talk of making Roswell more business friendly during the campaign and seeing how it's the same 'ol schtick after the election.

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